March 15, 2021
By Jeff Weakley
Looking for the ultimate intersection of portability and maneuverability? A quality inflatable kayak is hard to beat here. No need for a trailer or roof racks to get your boat to the water. Easy to store in a small apartment. Check it on an airplane for a trip to your dream destination.
The Hobie iTrek series brings exclusive MirageDrive pedal propulsion to this versatile category of watercraft. The MirageDrive is the now-familiar “penguin flippers” which generate thrust through pedal strokes. You can paddle or push-pole an iTrek, same as any kayak, but the MirageDrive makes for the best open-water performance. Super quiet, super efficient, we’ve found.
Among the iTrek models, the new iTrek9 Ultralight is particularly eye-opening as it measures just 9 feet, 5 inches and weighs 20 pounds before rigging. A child could easily move this boat from the back of an SUV or minivan and transport it down a beach or wooded trail. And yet the iTrek 9 is perfectly capable of supporting a 200-pound angler with rods and tackle—even standing.
The secret is in the iTrek’s tough, diagonal dropstitch nylon construction. The boat can take up to 10 psi inflation, making it as rigid as a fiberglass board. The iTrek 9 turns easily under rudder control; the steering handle mounts to the side of the seat, right or left, as you prefer. The seat is a comfortable “beach chair” style with fast-drying, durable nano-mesh. The seat position is high enough to enable a reasonably fit angler to reach a standing position, yet low enough to minimize windage, to a degree, when navigating open water. Full disclosure: A cross or quartering wind upwards of 10 knots will tend to nudge these flat-bottom boats more so than other hull shapes. Not a deal-breaker, if you have to go, but if most of your days will be spent crossing big water, a conventional kayak may be a better bet. That said, you might still want the inflatable in your quiver for special ops.
The iTrek 9 Ultralight comes standard with a roller bag complete with a hand pump and electric pump, MirageDrive with Glide Technology and Kick-Up Fins, adjustable seat and three-piece SUP-style paddle. Add the Hobie H-Crate or your own cooler or crate to the aft deck for convenient storage of rods, tackle and supplies.
Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Specs:
Construction: 550 denier PVC with a diagonal drop-stitch, single chamber inflatable
Length: 9’ 5”
Weight: 20 lbs., 36 lbs. fully rigged
Capacity: 350 lbs.
Color: Sea Grass Green
Price: $2,199 MSRP